An oddly-shaped nine-game Monday NBA DFS slate sees four contests tip in the 10 pm ET hour after opening with five games that commence between 7:00 and 8:30. The gap in start times should provide a significant advantage to those willing to stick the night out waiting on news and changes in the standings from the early games to inform their late swapping decisions. Two of the four late games are among the night’s most highly totaled, with the Bucks – Jazz carrying a 232.5 mark on the board in Vegas, and the Bulls – Kings game at a robust 236. The night’s peak comes in the lone 8:30 game, a contest between the Timberwolves and Spurs that should offer an extremely broad array of choices from every price tier for NBA DFS lineup construction. The slate has that contest above 240, four games in the 230s, three in the 220s, and a low point at 212 in the night’s opening game between the Clippers and defensively stout Cavaliers in Cleveland. The injury report in that contest reads like a Civil War battlefield hospital record, with a long list of key pieces either out or questionable on both sides. With several strong value plays and a few fairly priced mid-range players to offer, the poorly-totaled early game cannot be fully crossed off, unless it becomes a necessity for time management purposes ahead of lock. Several of the key NBA building blocks from the extremely low salary tiers come from this contest as the slate is shaped in the early afternoon, they demand consideration.
This space will always focus on the factors mentioned above, but at times we will call out plays that are over-owned, taking the opportunity to discuss the potential pivots. With nine games on the slate, this article will focus on the top overall plays on the Boom/Bust Tool. As always, the goal is to find players who are under-appreciated for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA DFS projections and simulations.
NBA DFS Optimizer Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups
These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust Tool, specifically analyzing the optimal lineup rate, leverage score, and boom probability. The optimal lineup rate represents the frequency at which a player appears in the optimal lineup in Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings NBA and FanDuel NBA slates. The leverage score is the difference between the optimal lineup rate and projected ownership, while the boom probability indicates a player’s likelihood of hitting a ceiling score. It is important to remember that not all of these NBA DFS picks are highlights, at times we will discuss plays that are outright bad or come at such aggressively negative leverage that they are rendered bad in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
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Amir Coffey: DK $3,700 — SG/SF | FD $3,900 — SF/PG
In addition to their typically long injury report, the Clippers will also be without veterans Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson this evening, with both players sitting out for rest. Los Angeles will have a total of nine active players available for the game, and they are short on true NBA talent for this matchup. The Cavaliers will also be without a number of their critical pieces and the result may be an ugly outing on the floor from an actual NBA perspective, yet even an ugly game can yield a bonanza of quality for NBA DFS purposes. With that in mind, expected Clippers starter Amir Coffey looks like an excellent source of salary-based upside across the industry as of the mid-afternoon. Coffey stands out atop the board as the critical value play du jour, though as we have seen in recent days that can quickly change with emergent news in other places. Regardless of whether he stands at the pinnacle, or only somewhere near the top of the list as lock arrives, Coffey should be a strong play regardless of site or format. The Clippers forward averages just 0.71 fantasy points per minute on 14.8% usage across all situations this season, a lowly mark that is actually a jump from his 0.61 per-minute mark on 14.5% usage last year. Coffey has a 59.1% true shooting percentage with a 10.9% assist rate and a 5.9% rebounding percentage this season, but at his extremely low prices, he should be able to easily make value with upside for more in his projected 35 minutes.
On the FanDuel slate, Coffey is the second-most frequently optimal player at any position at 28.2%. His appearance rate in the top lineup in Awesemo’s simulated slates is topped only by Portland big man Drew Eubanks, who remains a source of cheap NBA DFS scoring at just $4,300 on the blue site. That price has Eubanks as a 41.1% optimal play with a 59.89% boom score probability that also leads the entire slate. Coffey sits second by boom score probability as well, he comes in with a 49.54% mark, making his required salary-based ceiling score nearly half the time. The top-10 by boom score probability on FanDuel includes Eubanks and Coffey, followed by fellow Clippers forward Nicolas Batum, a few quality mid-range options, and superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. Using that category as a guide rail in shaping tournament lineups is an easy proposition, that group of players includes several options at strong value prices, quality leverage scores, and the raw scoring potential needed to reach the top of GPP standings. A FanDuel lineup including both superstars as well as Coffey, Batum, and Eubanks would have an average of $6,350 to spend at each of the four remaining open positions. Coffey is not an option that adds leverage to the mix, in fact, he is the most negatively leveraged player on the slate at -16.7, but at his price and probability metrics, it hardly matters. Including Coffey, even at a 44.9% ownership mark, is more about what his low cost helps pay for in other positions than it is about his individual success, failure, or popularity.
The same is true on the DraftKings slate. Coffey costs just $3,700 and he has five-position eligibility on the site, adding strong flexibility to the value of his bargain pricing. The Clippers wing is projected for a 28.3-point median DraftKings night, vaulting him into the top lineup in a huge 41.5% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. That rate puts Coffey well ahead of the field on this site, the closest player by optimal lineup appearances is Charlotte’s PJ Washington, who is in the top lineup just 26% of the time, a difference of 15 percentage points. Coffey is easily the slate’s top building block as things currently stand. The flexible play is carrying a 60.74% boom score probability that helps eliminate any thoughts about his overwhelming popularity. Even at a 57.3% ownership mark and a -15.8 leverage score, Coffey remains an excellent play regardless of how frequently the field is getting to him. Coffey is currently the key to unlocking the top of NBA DFS standings in contests of all types, his clear value comes from the plays he pays for across a lineup.
When running the NBA optimizer today, Coffey was one of the top players popping in the lineups. Check out all of our free NBA DFS picks today in our DraftKings NBA DFS Cheat Sheet and FanDuel NBA DFS Cheat Sheet.
Fred VanVleet: DK $7,800 — PG/SG | FD $7,800 — PG
The frustrating tale of Fred VanVleet’s season is going to be a daily question mark until the schedule is extinguished. VanVleet has been nursing an injury and has missed the bulk of the Raptors’ recent games, but he was able to return to action last Wednesday, scoring 26 NBA points in 34 minutes. He followed that with a more pedestrian game, but played a whopping 38 minutes on Friday night, before sitting out the second leg of the back-to-back on Saturday. With a day off in between, if VanVleet is truly back to form where he can play 38 minutes without negative impact, he should be expected to take the floor this evening. The Toronto guard is projected for 37 minutes in Awesemo’s afternoon update, putting him firmly in play on both sites. The ownership projections will likely catch up to the player, closing the leverage gap on both sites if there is news that he is confirmed in prior to lock, but Toronto is facing the Lakers in Los Angeles in a 10 pm ET game tonight, and news could easily wait until well after the slate locks before breaking. With VanVleet underpriced and possibly under-owned on both sites, he makes a top-notch play if he does lace up the sneakers tonight. The Toronto guard averages 1.06 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, he has a 56.8% true shooting percentage and a 27.6% assist rate this year, he is an excellent source of upside for a fair mid-range price across the industry tonight.
On the DraftKings slate, VanVleet is a $7,800 option at either guard position, giving him excellent flexibility on top of his strong probability metrics. The Raptors guard has an excellent 42.6-point median projection at that salary, a rate of production that elevates him to a 43.6% probability of hitting his salary-based ceiling score, the fourth-highest such mark on the board and the top rate among players priced above $5,000 on the slate. VanVleet stands one spot ahead of Hawks star Trae Young, who has a 42.09% boom score probability and a 52.9-point DraftKings median projection as a $10,300 option at point guard. VanVleet’s low salary affords the ability to combine the two guards in the same lineup if desired. The Raptors guard is easily the more optimal play of the two, however, he checks in at a 23.7% rate of appearances in the top lineup in Awesemo’s simulated slates. That mark sits immediately below PJ Washington in third overall on the DraftKings slate, with Terrance Mann of the Clippers coming in fourth at 17.4%, a clear drop in quality that comes directly after VanVleet in the slate’s current configuration. The valuable Raptors guard is projected to be under-owned as things currently look, he has just a 6.9% popularity projection, which would yield an excellent slate-leading 16.8 leverage score. Even if that margin thins as lock approaches, or as news breaks even in late swapping, VanVleet seems likely to make for an excellent selection, assuming he plays at all.
On the blue site, VanVleet is similarly rated across the board. He comes in at the exact same salary against FanDuel’s higher cap, though he drops his shooting guard eligibility on the site. VanVleet has a 40.83-point median projection and he is one of the optimal point guards in 21.6% of Awesemo’s simulated slates when he is included. That rate would rank VanVleet sixth overall on the site and second among eligible point guards, behind Portland’s inexpensive Brandon Williams, who costs $5,000 and makes for a solid wingman to either VanVleet or one of the upside stars at the position such as Trae Young or LaMelo Ball. Any combination of two of the four-point guards would be a strong approach, the inherent value in the salaries of VanVleet and Williams make them leading choices as they can create purchasing power at other positions.
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Donovan Mitchell: DK $8,900 — SG | FD $8,200 — SG/PG
In a high-caliber game with one of the night’s highest totals, Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell ranks out well on both sites. The elite scorer will have plenty of work to shoulder with the likely absence of teammate Bojan Bogdanovic and the possible absence of star center Rudy Gobert. The big man is currently the more likely to play, he is listed as questionable on the injury report but participated in morning shootaround and mentioned to reporters that he is planning on playing. Regardless, Mitchell would be a strong play, he looks excellent in Awesemo’s tools as of the afternoon with Gobert projected to play, and he would only improve in the absence of his teammates. Mitchell is averaging a sturdy 1.22 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, he posted a 43-point FanDuel outing Saturday night in 36 minutes in a similar situation with Gobert out, but there is clearly upside for more. Mitchell has a 57.4% true shooting percentage and a strong 26.4% assist rate, and he sees 31.9% usage under normal circumstances. In a competitive highly-totaled game against the Bucks, there should be plenty of room for Mitchell to make his ceiling scores.
On the DraftKings slate, the capable guard has a 9.2% optimal lineup appearance rate that drops him to 24th overall on the slate, but with the 10th ranked option at just 13.5% and all but three players below 20% optimal, the gap is not nearly as wide as the single-digit might initially suggest. Mitchell ranks out on a broad plateau as things currently stand, but he is one of the few players on the board with a true 60-point upside. Mitchell is projected for a 42.7-point median night and he has a 26.05% boom score probability that ranks similarly. Mitchell is projected for just 10.6% ownership, technically dropping to a -1.4 leverage score, but easily leaving room to roster the quality guard at or around the field’s rate, if not beyond it. Taking a stand on a player like Mitchell with the field at such low raw ownership is a fine position to occupy, at 10% it is not difficult to double the field without risking a full portfolio of lineups.
With multi-position eligibility and a lower price, Mitchell is a strong play on the FanDuel slate. The flexible guard hits the optimal lineup in 17.7% of Awesemo’s simulated slates for the blue site, ranking him 10th overall, second among shooting guards, and fourth among point guards on the site. The Jazz star rates similarly to VanVleet, Ball, and Young by probability metrics, he should be considered in the same class despite coming in with the lowest median projection in the group at 40.58 FanDuel points. Mitchell has a 24.96% boom score probability, displaying the strength of the play. With an ability to reach his salary-weighted ceiling of FanDuel points nearly a quarter of the time, Mitchell demands attention at just $8,200 in a key position. He will be popular on the slate, but the projected 19.9% ownership is less than that of all the comparable options with the exception of VanVleet, who is benefitting from his questionable status in the popularity category. Mitchell is firmly in the mix for shares at either guard position in FanDuel NBA DFS lineups tonight.
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Our NBA projections DFS are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have Yahoo! NBA rankings, DraftKings rankings and FanDuel NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Check out our NBA DraftKings rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DFS projections tonight. View our Yahoo! NBA ownership, our DraftKings ownership projections and our FanDuel ownership. Looking for more DFS NBA and the best NBA DFS tools?
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